Bridport down, Plymouth and Exeter to go!
It was slightly earlier start than initially planned as Ken kindly offered me the opportunity to skip driving to the South West for this leg of the tour and hitch a ride on Cerebus, the Ferocious Dog minibus.
I should’ve grabbed a picture or two really – I’ll try to remember tomorrow. I got myself up to Trowell Services for the pick up and procured a massive box of doughnuts as they arrived, with Ken in the driving seat, along with Waggy, Scott and Ellis – all mostly in good spirits, Scott’s previous evening’s alcohol consumption aside.
Waggy took over driving duties and we were off to Bridport via picking up John off the M5.
Cerebus is awesome – emblazoned with Ferocious Dog graphics on the outside, and inside the middle row of seats are replaced by a table printed with an image of the band making it spacious and comfortable compared to a typical cramped minibus for someone of my height. It certainly draws a lot of looks on the motorway from passing motorists too. The windows at the back are blacked out too, mercifully considering later on…
The journey down was fun – we joined the M5 at the junction after the service station we were meeting John and after 16 miles or so of not seeing any services realised so doubled back to collect him. Oops. In the meantime Ellis and I had made a solid attempt at the crossword (ahem) and watched Scott transition from still-drunk to getting-hungover. The new Ferocious Dog tracks were on the stereo and it was interesting to listen to them talking about little bits and pieces they were happy and less happy with. There was even a sneak peak of prospective new album artwork passed around which looks great.
Once John was on board our party was complete – Dan and Leanne were travelling down separately by car and Les too was meeting us down in Bridport. A couple of stops for toilet breaks and cigarette breaks from the increasingly agitated Ellis and Scott and eventually we were honing in on Bridport – only to encounter a series of bizarre road closures, suicidal parking and general kerfuffles – however, we did make it and ingratiate ourselves with the locals with a quiet and dignified drive through the quite well-to-do looking Dorset town. Ahem.
Whilst much of what happens on the bus must stay on the bus, the overwhelming experience is one of a bunch of fellas who are down to earth and loving what they do – albeit well hidden in the case of a certain hungover drummer. He did perk up as the day went on though and was in high spirits but the end of the night. It will be interesting to see what level of inebriation he’s managed to achieve this evening when we reconvene in the morning!
The venue was duly located, parking space coned off for us so we got the bus unloaded of gear, met Dan, Leanne and Les there after which I left the band to get themselves set up and sound checked whilst I found my hotel. After that I met up with local hell hound Gary for a few cheeky pints at the Ropemakers – a decent local pub that looks like it has a cracking live music scene itself, and plenty of local ales to sample. As more gig-goers started to come in it was close to support-act-starting time so we decamped to the Electric Palace.
It’s worth a moment to note the venue – an old cinema that fell into disuse and dereliction – it’s lovely now. When we arrived earlier in the afternoon they had standalone seats set out on the dance floor area in front of the banked area at the back with fixed seats. Mercifully these had been removed and the place was already pretty busy when I got in – admittedly with people either sitting in the seats or standing near the bar at the back and resolutely avoiding the moshpit area.
The original support act wasn’t available for some reason but a late substitute had been drafted in in the form of a very engaging chap playing guitar or banjo and singing – I did find out who he was, but then had more drinks and subsequently forgot (I must get better at this supporting the support lark!), but it was an enjoyable performance and seemed to go down well with the crowd watching and certainly with Les, Scott and John who were all in the crowd watching him.
People did start to shuffle to the front now as they anticipated Ferocious Dog, the lights were dimmed, the intro music started and the gig was on. It was an interesting crowd – there was plenty of folk dancing but very politely compared to what I’m used to! Eventually Mick and I started to bang into each other a little which prompted a chap from France who’d come to say he was expecting to mosh – so along with a few other lads at the front we did actually manage to get the crowd going a little more.
It’s a shame we couldn’t unleash a full on Ferocious Dog moshpit really as there was bugger all security to get mardy!
Regrettably it meant there really wasn’t much chance of a surfboard for Freeborn John, I did offer to put Mick up on my shoulders but he wasn’t having it – but nonetheless the crowd were really enjoying it, as was I. The sound quality in the venue was great aided by the lovely acoustics from the high ceiling. The band sounded tight – whether it was the higher concentration of unfamiliar folk in the crowd or a conscious choice there was less intra-song chat and a more professional performance.
It worked a treat – there was a queue at the merch stand by the end (even I managed to flog an album whilst holding the fort for Leanne whilst she popped to the loo) and I’m sure a few converts in the crowd, certainly by the end of the gig we had a few getting a bit more actively involved – hopefully whenever they next come to a gig they get properly stuck in from the off! The set was played straight through with no pause for an encore again – possibly partly due to the laughably early curfew that the digs Scott, John and Ellis were staying at had imposed on them.
Once the room cleared we packed up and put all the gear in the foyer ready to collect in the morning – Dan and Leanne legged it, John, Scott and Ellis rushed to try to get as drunk as they could in quite a small time window and Ken and Waggy went to pop the van somewhere better before having a few drinks, having had a fair few before and just after the gig I headed round the corner to my hotel via the dirty kebab shop and well, am now sad enough to have fired up the laptop to write this while I wait for my ear ringing to subside!
Next stop Plymouth, whether I muster up a post after that I’m not so sure – I’ve been relatively sensible tonight knowing tomorrow is likely to prove more messy! As for tomorrow, we’re loading up Cerebus from 8am tthen breakfast and onward. Certainly Mick will be there again, and Adele and Addie and I’m sure other folk I know – not to mention a friend who lives there who I’ve bullied into getting tickets along with a couple of his mates so it should be a fun night.
One thing about the way I travelled in unearthed a side to gigs I never I never really thought much about – and that’s how much stuff you need to make a gig work. There’s quite a lot of it, and it needs shifting, unpacking, assembling, disassembling and packing up and plugging again – it’s the unglamourous side of the whole affair that is fairly apparent if you think about it but not really all that visible typically as a gig goer as you’re on your merry way before all that starts.